The Dreaded Chapter Five
Noel F. R. Guzman
This chapter will look into the other side of Luther: the critique that he was anthropocentric toward creation. Dealing with this critique would pave the way to understand critically and mend the destructiveness of our religious tradition, unveil the impact of these anthropocentric writings toward nature, and show corresponding reactions from non-Western traditions. Due attention is given to the historical and cultural influence of Luther’s anthropocentric thoughts and the critique from the aboriginal or indigenous traditions.
Although his mature thoughts, especially his exegesis on Genesis and the Psalms, demonstrated ethical norms of creation, it could not be denied that Luther was part of the Western religious tradition that shaped the Christian mind with profound anthropocentricism through the intense focus on the inner life. It should also be clarified at the outset that the mature Luther remained anthropocentric. However, Luther’s mature thoughts broke with the predominant Platonic thought of the younger Luther and further opposed the Hellenistic anthropology.
It is the purpose of this chapter to analyze and correct the detrimental beliefs of Western Christian tradition which impacted the Eurocentric missionary enterprise in its collaboration with political and global economic forces. This in turn had caused indifference and harm toward the Earth and the world’s indigenous communities. Shaping a sound doctrine of creation, German theologian Jürgen Moltmann asserts the prerequisite of a critical understanding of the problems and perplexities our religious tradition has itself contributed to the ecological crisis. In his book, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, Moltmann claims: “Today a theological doctrine of creation which can responsibly be maintained must first of all come to terms critically with its own tradition and the history of its own influence.” To have a critical awareness of our beliefs would help us recognize the roots of the crisis and cultivate a better relationship with nature. Moltmann elucidates further:
The ecological crisis of the modern world has its starting point in the modern industrial countries. These grew up in the midst of civilizations which had been shaped by Christianity. We cannot ignore the historical effects of the Christian belief in creation. Those effects throw a light of their own on the belief itself, and today require us to criticize the developments which we know have gone wrong and to interpret belief in creation in a new way, in the light of its true beginnings.
In his discussion on “Transforming Traditions” from his book What Are They Saying About Environmental Theology?, John Hart features Northern and Southern visionary voices and thinkers who challenge the Western Christian tradition and their own indigenous beliefs and culture to mend beliefs that are detrimental to nature. “These voices,” he writes, “offer new insights that might or might not eventually be incorporated in the long term, but deserve presentation and consideration: to stimulate further developments in theology-ecology understandings, or to help people to clarify current understandings—or both.” John Hart cites a vital example:
Daniel Maguire cites Christianity for its frequent focus on human life on Earth as a preparation for an otherworldly existence after death, so that the value of Earth is seen as secondary and “biocentricity gives way to theocentricity.” Hope for an afterlife, then, “might do more than opiate the social conscience”; it can also “make our earth-life the prologue, not the text and context of our being.” This does not bode well for the well-being of the Earth. Earth as main stage becomes Earth as prelude: the biological may be seen as hostile to the spiritual. At the least, its status is diminished. It is not our home but the proving ground for our real home beyond. That is troubling news for the rest of nature.
In a complementary way, historian and ecological writer H. Paul Santmire made an impressive survey of the Western Christian tradition and the ambiguous ecological promise of theology in his book The Travail of Nature: The Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology. A remarkable examination of key Christian theologians, including Luther, Santmire stressed the ambiguous ecological promise by claiming that “Christian thought is both promising and not promising for those who are seeking to find solid traditional foundations for a new theology of nature.” According to Santmire, Luther’s anthropocentric-soteriological foreground is one liability to nature that reflects Western theology’s increasing preoccupation with human salvation. One featured anthropocentric tonality in Luther is the reformer’s exposition of the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed, where Luther made the human the center of attention in creation. “I believe that God has created me together with all that exists,” Luther writes, “that he has given me and still sustains my body and soul, all my limbs and senses.” Santmire claims, “[This statement of Luther] surely stands in sharp contrast to the universal scope of theological meaning.” Santmire echoes the same thought in his most recent book, Nature Reborn: The Ecological and Cosmic Promise of Christian Theology. He then described this as the “pro me of Reformation”:
That powerful, if scandalous, particularism has fatefully influenced the Reformation tradition’s reading of the biblical theology of creation. Luther stated the matter most revealingly in his Small Catechism, in his lead statement interpreting the First Article of the Creed, which has to do with the work of God, the Father Almighty: “I believe that God has created me together with all that exists.” The pro me of Reformation existential faith as a matter of course tended to produce an anthropocentric reading of creation texts as well as redemption texts.
The climax of the concentration on inner life was reached by Luther upon his famous unveiling of the “individual salvation through the grace of God by faith alone.” Luther’s central preoccupation on “the greatest emancipation of the individual,” that is, the liberation of the human soul or personal salvation from the anxieties of this world in his renowned Pauline and Augustinian influence of “justification by faith,” had considerably contributed to the human-centered bias of the Western Christian tradition toward human dealings with nature. This constitutes a big factor in the Western tradition’s indifference toward and exploitation of nature.
Luther’s primary concern in his time was to liberate Christians from the bondage of meritorious works and the control of church authority. He eliminated the medieval practice of human striving to reach God and asserted the divine promise of God’s grace to the individual who was repentant. He is truly one of the great emancipators of human history who elevated the liberty of human conscience and the importance of the individual in his or her quest for security and certainty of salvation. His soteriology of personal salvation, however, became a significant factor to his being anthropocentric. Let us discover the roots of his anthropocentric writings.
No theologian in the entire history of Christian religion has been as acclaimed as the great African doctor, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), the major theological ancestor of Martin Luther, who until today has continued to be influential to both Catholics and Protestants. With the profound influence of St. Augustine, Luther became one of the theological giants of Western Christianity who relived, in his context, Saint Paul’s theology of salvation or “justification by faith.” No theologian, except Paul and Augustine, has been as encompassing as Luther who popularized the liberation of human beings’ relationship with God and introduced the greatest emancipation of the individual from the anxieties of this world, especially the bondage of sin and the fear of death.
The sixteenth century marks the revival of St. Paul’s and St. Augustine’s teaching on personal salvation, which further shaped Western Christianity on its outlook toward the importance of the individual and one’s Heavenly home that significantly led to the lack of interest to care for the Earthly home. The famous City of God of the fifth century was relived in the sixteenth century through Luther’s doctrine of Two-Kingdoms and his emphasis on the pilgrimage of Christians on earth. Medieval spirituality concentrated on the inner life through the promotion of monastic virtues. In the words of Augustine: “I desire to have knowledge of God and the soul. Of nothing else? No, of nothing else at all.” The focus on the soul was further intensified by Luther and laid right at the heart of the Augustinian theme, “God and the soul.” The substance of this theme can be described, according to Santmire, as “theanthropocentric.” This description focuses on God and humanity as its chief subjects. Santmire explains: “Luther and Calvin present us with a vision of God and humanity in dynamic interpersonal communion, established by the gracious Word of God. This theanthropocentric focus of their thought reflects Western theology’s increasing preoccupation with human salvation—soteriology—in the post-Augustinian centuries.”
Luther’s time was a milieu of common people’s immense insecurity and uncertainty about salvation. Luther’s world had been besieged by a series of deadly plagues which generated many sick and frightened people and aggravated their insecurity of life. As a result, the reality of death and dying prompted religious teachings to focus more toward “life after death,” while life in the “here and now” became more and more insignificant due to this profound anxiety about the plight of the soul.
Luther became one of the theological giants of Western tradition who popularized the “individualization of salvation.” Salvation became a private matter with the profound concern that one had to be a part of the elect. This emancipated, autonomous individual became an influential moral paradigm of the West and was further articulated by Christian thinkers and theologians, particularly during the Enlightenment, in the pursuit of happiness, freedom, and economic progress – something that only the elect could do. The Western mind was to a large extent obsessed with the spiritual and material benefits the human being could get.
Does Christianity really bear a huge burden of guilt? One could say that the complaint on the ecological crisis against Christianity as “the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen” is legitimate. Moltmann affirms: “The Christian belief in creation as it has been maintained in the European and American Christianity of the Western churches is therefore not guiltless of the crisis in the world today.” However, we cannot blame everything on Christianity; one does need to be defensive, but should recognize this critique as a challenge to mend the bottlenecks of our Western tradition where we have been truly confined with a human-centered outlook, particularly the emphasis on salvation of the soul; not minding the salvation of other creatures, because they have no souls. After all, Luther said that heaven was not made for geese, animals, and trees. Thus, the human soul becomes the most important concern in the universe.
Luther’s writings on anthropological dualism, Christian pilgrimage on earth, belief of election, and the utility and enjoyment of God’s blessings had led to the complaint that Western Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt for the ecological crisis. Let us now turn to these four basic anthropocentric writings of Luther.
Luther’s anthropology is derived from the Pauline and Augustinian dualist tradition. He demonstrated it in The Disputation Concerning Man: “Theology to be sure from the fullness of its wisdom defines man as whole and perfect: Namely, that man is a creature of God consisting of body and a living soul, made in the beginning after the image of God, without sin, so that he should procreate and rule over the created things, and never die. But after the fall of Adam, certainly, he was subject to the power of the devil, sin and death, a twofold evil for his powers, unconquerable and eternal.” It explicitly shows here that a human being is made up of two parts: a material body and a soul. For Luther, his concept was that the human being is not “whole and perfect” unless there is a soul in the body. It is the soul that makes the human whole. Bernhard Lohse explains his understanding of Luther’s concept of the human being: “In his anthropology he took up in detail the lower and higher power of the soul as well as human corporeality.” Moreover, Oswald Bayer states: “As of Luther’s anthropology, we can say of Luther’s social ethics that it presents itself in the form of a controversy between the philosophical and the theological positions. . . . The conflict, furthermore, is not resolved, as it is by the strict separation of exterior and interior.”
Luther utterly denied the indivisibleness of the human form. Defending the dualistic heritage of Christian tradition against a differing opinion, he asserted in his 1518 lecture on Hebrews:
In conformity with philosophy it is said that substantial form, but especially the human form, is indivisible. Hence those subtleties of opinions as to whether the powers of the soul differ actually, substantially, or with regard to form. . . . Walking simply in faith, however, we shall follow the apostle, who, in I Thessalonians (5: 13), divides man into three parts when he says: “May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of the Lord.” Therefore Origen took more pains with regard to this matter than anyone else; and after him St. Jerome says with reference to Gal. 5: 17 that, as is known to all, the body or the flesh, is our lowest part, the spirit, by which we are capable of divine things, is our highest part, but the soul is our middle part between the two. If these words are understood in the way St. Augustine, too, divides man into a higher and a lower part, and also the soul, they are clear and have been satisfactorily stated above.
Two years later in his Magnificat, Luther expressed another elucidation of his anthropology:
The nature of man consists of the three parts—spirit, soul and body. . . . The first part, the spirit, is the highest, deepest, and noblest part of man. By it he is enabled to lay hold on things incomprehensible, invisible, and eternal. It is, in brief, the dwelling place of faith and the Word of God.
The second part the soul, is this same spirit, so far as its nature is concerned, but viewed as performing a different function, namely, giving life to the body and working through the body. In the Scriptures it is frequently put for the life; for the spirit may live without the body, but the body has no life apart from the spirit. Even in sleep the soul lives and works without ceasing.
The third part is the body with its members. Its work is only to carry out and apply that which the soul knows and the spirit believes.
Evidently, the body was significantly divorced from, contrasted with and subordinated to a higher form, such as soul or spirit. Greek thought on dualism has really permeated deeply in our religious tradition, predominantly the writings of St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the German reformer, where they dealt a lot with the division of body and soul and draw a sharp distinction of the eternal and temporal. We are taught to focus more on the eternal and less on the temporal. Paul’s passage in 2 Corinthians 5: 6 undoubtedly demonstrated this concept: “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’s home.” Affirming Pythagoras (582-507 B.C.E.) and Plato’s (428-348 B.C.E.) thoughts on the incarcerated soul, Luther further articulated that “the body is a gloomy prison, in which the soul is confined as in a prison and dungeon.” German Lutheran theologian Dorothee Söelle describes more this ambiguous belief of the imprisoned soul in her book, To Work and To Love: A Theology of Creation: “Most of us know the feeling of being ashamed of our body, the wish to extricate ourselves from our body, even the hate of our body. Sometimes the soul is a stranger to the body and longs to be free from it. The body is then experienced as a prison. Spiritual dualism forges this estrangement into an ideology that denigrates the physical realm as the “lower” element in a hierarchical system.” This concept of the soul as being essentially alienated, antagonistic and otherworldly toward the physical world has heavily influenced the exploitative attitude toward nature. Jürgen Moltmann identifies the destructiveness of this religious belief within our ecological context: “The alienation of the human being from his bodily existence must be viewed as the inner aspect of the external ecological crisis of modern industrial society. Religion and upbringing made people identify themselves as the subjects merely of cognition and will; their bodily existence was something that had to be objectified and subdued. Men and women became the masters of themselves and their own possessions.”
Luther denied the idea that the soul and the body were inseparable or “one and the same.” In fact, in one occasion, Luther was even infuriated by Aristotle’s (384-322 B.C.E.) thought about the unity or inseparableness of the soul and the body, a concept totally opposite to Aristotle’s teacher, Plato. Luther candidly contested: “Why this wretched fellow in his book, Concerning the Soul, teaches that the soul dies with the body, although many have tried without success to save his reputation. As though we did not have the Holy Scriptures, in which we are fully instructed about all things, things about which Aristotle has not the faintest clue!” The mature Luther, however, though he remained anthropocentric, broke with his earlier Platonic anthropology and affirmed the New Testament’s resurrection belief in “deep sleep” of humans. Luther wrote: “For just as a man who falls asleep and sleeps soundly until morning does not know what has happened to him when he wakes up, so we shall suddenly rise on the Last Day; and we shall know neither what death has been like or how we have come through it.” Paul Althaus argued that the mature Luther opposed the Hellenistic dualism on the total separation of soul from the body. Although Luther still shares the dualistic anthropology, Althaus asserts: “the decisive New Testament insights reappear in Luther and once again become the dominant elements in his thinking.”
Luther shed light on this in his 1532 sermon about death which depicted his dichotomized anthropology: “After all, it is only a man that dies, and not even the whole man, but only a part, the body.” He also affirmed the final unity of the soul and the body in one of his later disputations: “Thus the soul comes from the same seed as the body does and yet it can be separated from the body, but afterwards the soul shall be reunited again with the body.”
In reality, the anthropological dichotomy, even trichotomy, of Luther had reduced the body into a lower form. With this argument, it conspicuously signified the need to liberate the soul from the body. If the body is simply a tomb or prison of the soul as retribution for sin, then it signifies that the physical world or nature is the same: a despised source of evil and misery in human life. Greek influence in the thought of Empedocles (495-435 B.C.E.) came to saturate the Western mind by asserting that the physical world is “a joyless place where murder and vengeance dwell, and swarms of other fates—wasting diseases, putrefactions, and fluxes—roam in darkness over the meadow of doom.” For the Western mind, which was profoundly influenced by Greek thought, the material became utterly subordinated to eternal things.
It is interesting to note, however, that there is one Greek philosopher who believed the body was as essential a part of the human nature as the soul. This thought was conceived by Epicurus (342-270 B.C.E.), who also denied a life after death and discarded the Christian idea of predestination or the Stoicism’s belief of absolute fate controlling the destiny of people. True happiness can be found, argued Epicurus, only by rejecting superstition and the fear of death. This position was bluntly rejected by Luther who defended Christianity’s doctrine of salvation of the soul and eternal life. Attacking Epicurus’ denial of the destiny of the soul after death, Luther asserted: “To be sure, I am dying, but not like a pig from the herd of Epicurus, as though there were nothing else in me than death and a corpse. Indeed, I am making known to you with true and steadfast faith that God lives and that He will be with you while you are living and with me after my death; for I believe in Him.” The profound dualism of Luther led him to do a sharp distinction between body and soul, making the latter more essential than the former.
What persisted to be unpopular to the Western mind was the Hebrew or Old Testament thought that the term soul (nephesh) refers to the entire living being, not the fragmented human being with body and soul or the sharp division of the exterior and interior. The root of the word nephesh simply comes from the terms “breath” and “breathing.” In Genesis 2: 7, it is indicated that God breathed into His nostrils the “breath of life” into the man of the dust and became a living being. In the argument of Biblical scholar Claus Westermann: “The Bible does not say that a human being is made up of body and soul, or of body, soul, and spirit. God’s creation is this man in the totality of his being. . . . A higher regard for the spiritual ideal than for the corporeal or material has no basis in the creation faith of Genesis.” Soul for the Hebrews is simply the “breath of life.” It is not regarded as a form or division.
In fact, in the Old Testament, their belief in the Resurrection, which is based on Daniel 12: 2 and Isaiah 26: 19, indicated that there is no such thing as a soul separating from the body when a person dies. A dead person would simply go back to the dust of the earth and sleep until the Judgment Day when all the dead shall rise. So, the Christian idea of the soul, which is a higher form of a human being, does not exist in the Hebraic thought. This Oriental tradition should enlighten us to think that the human being is not dualistic. This dualism should be deconstructed so we can end our obsession on the plight of the soul and instead submerge ourselves in loving the earth. The importance of the human body in this Oriental tradition would also avoid the concept that the material, including nature, is evil. As Christians we have to learn many things from earlier traditions, particular the Hebrew faith and the primal religions of the East, especially their teachings on reverence and love for nature.
Little do we hear, if at all, of this “religion of love,” which is rooted in the love of God and the love of neighbor, that we are to regard other creatures as our neighbors as well. Sad to say, we persist in restricting our love to our own species. Our neighbor that deserves our love is no more than our co-human, nothing else. Our biblical scholars and theologians had hardly told us that the Gospel of love can also be extended to the whole creation. This unpopular biblical idea of presenting the good news of love and salvation to the “whole creation” was in fact asserted in Mark 16: 15. Does Christianity deserve to be called a “religion of love” while most Christians display lovelessness to nature?
Ironically, this anthropocentric religion continues to be one of the most influential religions of the world. In fact, it became the religion of most of the rich and powerful nations. These Christian nations, predominantly in the West, are famous for massive exploitation of nature and over-consumption of the earth’s natural wealth. These nations, which to a large extent are equipped with the mechanical or technological attitude toward nature, are utterly incoherent with the “distributive justice” of the gifts of God for all creatures. The idea of interrelationship among God’s creatures and the preservation of bio-diversity have not been the prime concern of Christians because of the separation of humanity from nature.
Dorothee Söelle describes the human being “made from dust,” a concept that integrates the non-dualistic human with all creatures. She recaptures the importance of the body against the inferiority of the body in Christian dualism. She critically argues:
What does it mean to be made from dust? Being made from dust reminds me of being in and with the body. The history of Christianity has been marked by a rejection of the principal dimensions of this “dust factor.” It is through my body that I know that it is not so very good here on earth. The wrong way to relieve this tension is to deny and to suppress the body and its needs in favor of affirming an idealistic spirituality cleansed of all bodily desires. . . . It is based on the dualism of self and body, or the body-spirit dichotomy that we inherited from Greek philosophy.
According to Söelle, anthropology must be understood within the human being’s interrelationship with creation. We are created together with other creatures so humanity should not be understood separately but always be integrated with nature. So, any anthropology that is based on the individual betrays humanity’s “dust factor,” the common origin of all creatures. When anthropology is divorced from nature, that anthropology becomes dualistic and destructive. Söelle claims:
Our ecological imperialism has its roots in [an anthropological] split, which in turn has spawned other dichotomies: the human versus the animal, man versus woman, adult versus child, the master versus the slave race, intellectual versus manual work. All these dichotomies are based on a distorted understanding of creation. These dichotomies reinforce belief in the superiority of mind over the matter and legitimate domination over the subjected. We must find a way to express our relationship to creation and to the Creator that differs from the hierarchical ordering of reality into higher and lower components.
This belief is destructive because humans are simply on the top of a hierarchy in creation and they do horrible things to other creatures simply because they are regarded as “lower components of creation” and solely created for human benefits. We need to amend this belief on dualism in order to recapture our interrelationship with nature.
Christian Pilgrimage on Earth
The Late Medieval Church’s catechism demonstrated this extreme human-centered anxiety in the writings of Dietrich Kolde (1435-1515) in his Mirror of a Christian Man: “There are three things I know to be true that frequently make my heart heavy. The first troubles my spirit because I will have to die. The second troubles my heart more, because I do not know when. The third troubles me above all. I do not know where I will go.” This extreme anxiety about the plight of the soul had basically reduced all temporal things, including nature, to inconsequence in the life of the here and now. Everyone had fixed their eyes, minds, and hearts toward the eternal home. To quote Carter Lindberg, “The Christian’s life of pilgrimage toward the heavenly city was increasingly perceived, literally and not just theologically, as an economy of salvation. The mathematics of salvation concentrated on achieving as many good works as possible in order to merit God’s reward.”
The central preoccupation of the Heavenly home had eclipsed the importance of the Earthly home. H. Paul Santmire emphasizes the metaphysical pilgrimage or migration to a good land which is known in Augustine’s Confessions and City of God. This thought is also evident in Luther, as Santmire affirms: “At times, indeed, the Reformers’ theology in this respect is so focused on God and humanity that it can appear to be radically anthropocentric. Luther remarks in his exposition of Genesis 1, for example, that Holy Scriptures ‘. . . plainly teaches that God created all these things in order to prepare a house and an inn, as it were, for the future man.’” The Earthly home was merely an inn or a dwelling for strangers. For a sojourner or a temporary resident, certainly he or she had to care more for his or her real home. In the mind of the stranger or the pilgrim, this Earthly home would eventually be destroyed, so to take care of it was inconsequential. The eternal home is more important. The pilgrim is preoccupied with his or her journey to the Eternal home where God is.
Luther echoed Augustine’s idea of pilgrimage that believers are “aware that they are exiles and strangers, like their fathers. They make use of the world as an inn from which they must emigrate in a short time, and they do not attach their heart to the affairs of this life. They tend to worldly matters with their left hand, while they raise their right hand upward to the eternal homeland.” Moreover, applying the idea of Abraham as an exile in his land, Luther claimed in his Genesisvorlesung:
Abraham, who is the lord of this land by divine authority, is an exile in it with Sarah and his son Isaac, it is signified in the spirit that we are strangers on earth and are living as if we were in exile.
For St. Paul says 2 Cor. 5: 6: “As long as we sojourn in the body.” But if we are exiles in the body, which is ours in a very special sense, and our life in the body is nothing else than a sojourn. . . . Thus Abraham understood that the promise given him included the true fatherland and the true life, namely, the future life and a life better that this one – a life which is not a servitude and captivity of the soul.
This heavenly promise is a prominent hope in the Bible especially for poor people. In Luke 6: 20 Christ uplifts the literal poor: “Blessed are you poor for yours is the kingdom of God.” In his exposition on the “Sermon on the Mount,” Luther candidly wrote: “Because we are willing to be poor here and pay no attention to temporal goods, we are to have a beautiful, glorious, great, and eternal possession in heaven. And because you have given up a crumb, which you still may use as long and as much as you can have it, you are to receive a crown, to be a citizen and a lord in heaven.” Poor people are always to be uplifted by the divine promise and their hope. They are to give more attention to eternal possession and less to earthly riches, that is, real wealth is in the kingdom of heaven. This perspective not only disparages earthly existence; it also reinforces the social status quo: the poor should be content with their poverty and their social position. Luther underscored his point using St. Paul’s passage in 2 Corinthians 5: 6, which Paul said “We know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord.” Luther wrote: “But if we are exiles in the body, which is ours in a very special sense, and our life in the body is nothing else than a sojourn, how much more are the fields, home, and money, nothing else than exiles and sojourns!” Our central preoccupation on eternal things has led to the tendency of treating Earthly things as secondary. This had significantly impacted Christian missions to the people in the Third World. As we have learned from the preceding chapters, the Christian missionary enterprise had, in one way or another, in collaboration with colonizers and global traders, contributed to the environmental destruction of the Third World’s natural resources and indigenous communities because of the introduction of an anthropocentric interpretation of the Christian Scriptures. The missionary bias toward the soul and the heavenly home was the vanguard of the missionaries, political invaders and economic looters of the rich indigenous habitats.
Let us take this typical example of Filipino minister and theologian Mariano Apilado, a product of foreign missions who wrote in his biographical theology about his missionary experience with the Bagos, an aboriginal tribe in La Union, Philippines. One day he was asked by the Bagos on their becoming Christians: “You mean you want us to become Christians like the lowland Christians who came here, cheat us in their trading and even grab our lands? No way could we compromise our moral conduct for such behavior!” Their communal, ancestral lands, which housed the heavenly beauty of tropical rainforest and awesome wildlife, were through trickery taken from them for industrial and agricultural use by rich local merchants and foreign corporations.
In fact, they were taught by missionaries to focus more on their eternal home in heaven and regard their habitat (rainforests) as secondary in importance. Years later, their lands were taken and the rainforests were gone. The annihilation of their rich indigenous habitat resulted in their decimation as well. As a matter of fact, three Filipino aboriginal tribes, the Agta, Ayta, and Katabaga, were already extinct because they were displaced or pushed onto marginal lands which were not suited to their traditional way of life. The massive exploitation of the Philippine rainforests by local elites and large logging companies, many with significant foreign ownership, had driven away the tribal minorities, together with the monkeys, birds, deer, and other wildlife, into nowhere. “The whole concept of the ‘sacred grove,’” Lynn White describes, “is alien to Christianity and to the ethos of the West. For nearly 2 millennia Christian missionaries have been chopping down sacred groves, which are idolatrous because they assume spirit in nature.” Christians, indeed, display a strange attitude toward the physical world. For them this world is believed to be destroyed in the end and that the ultimate goal is to win eternal life in the heavenly home. One has to utilize and enjoy the blessings of God’s creation because, after all, all things will pass away. It is this attitude that Western peoples have adopted in their economic exploitation of the earth – a direct opposite attitude from that of the world’s aboriginal peoples.
This ecological havoc in this small archipelago of Asia exemplifies what had happened in the massive exploitation of the Americas, Africa, Europe, and the rest of the world. The exploitation of the world’s aboriginal peoples and the Earth’s natural wealth were actually unleashed by the Industrial Revolution, along with the expansion of lands, wealth, and population by the famous European conquests of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Sad to say, these conquests had been collaborated by the missionary enterprise of Christianity, represented by the “ethnocentric” missionaries of the West. Rosemary Radford Ruether specifically cites this horrible scenario on massive decimation of indigenous populations:
The sixteenth to nineteenth centuries saw a rapid population expansion by Western Europe due to increased wealth from colonial trade, which also allowed improved sanitation and expanded food and industrial production. This was the same period that saw the conquest of much of the Americas, Africa, and Asia by European colonialism. In Central and South America, it is estimated that of the 80 million indigenous people present when Spanish and Portuguese colonialists arrived in 1550, only 10 million remained one hundred years later. Vast numbers of indigenous people died due to displacement, war, enslavement, and diseases. . . . The same pattern was repeated among indigenous populations in the Pacific islands. In some areas, such as Tasmania and the Caribbean islands, the entire indigenous population was wiped out.
These colonized regions of the world, including their indigenous cultures, were indeed Christianized. Ironically however, these regions now embody the poorest nations and debt-burdened countries in the world, whose indigenous population, traditional habitats, rich cultures, quality woods, precious metals, and wildlife were either wiped out from the face of the earth or continuously stripped from them through the manipulation of the local elites in alliance with the Christian missionary enterprise and the predatory economic empires of multinational corporations of rich countries.
Our human-centered and profit-oriented attitude toward nature never values the integrity and beauty of nature’s biodiversity. Little attention had been given by our religious tradition to the idea that there is an intrinsic value in non-human beings. Essentially, this idea clearly signifies that other creatures were not merely created for human consumption. The critique of George Hendry and Paul Santmire against Luther on his “pro-me” theology, as shown in the first article of the creed in Small Catechism, has made a good point because it indeed demonstrated that the “me” or the human being is the center of attention in creation, while the rest of creation plainly exists to sustain the human being’s existence. This human-centered creed really depicts the human being as the most important creature to be sustained, protected, preserved, and provided with daily needs by the Creator. The ordinary believer would certainly comprehend that the whole world of nature was merely created for the benefit of humanity and nothing else. This profound attention being given to the human being clearly demonstrates the dominant preoccupation with the soul. The Lutheran creed affirms the sustenance of the human soul, not just the physical body: “That [God] has given me and still sustains my body and soul.”
Linking cosmology and theology together is one way to resolve the ambiguity of the pilgrimage belief. In his article, “Ecology: Restoring Our Sense of Belonging,” theologian John F. Haught argues that Christians should reject the idea of separating theology from cosmology in respect to our ecological context. To quote Haught: “One way to make such a connection is to note that a major concern of ecologists is to convince us that we humans really do belong to the universe and to the earth. In fact, an axiom of many ecological ethicists is that unless we think of the earth or the cosmos as our home in some sense, unless we learn to feel deeply that we belong to nature, we will probably not be too interested in taking care of it.” Pilgrimage on Earth becomes ecologically problematic because our religious tradition had promoted, as Haught describes, a sense of “cosmic homelessness,” making the Earth a launching pad so as to be worthy of entering heaven, our "true" home in a world elsewhere. Earth has become a victim of our religious restlessness and we are always looking forward to end our exile here on earth and be in that real home where God is.
Paul Santmire’s questions are indeed compelling ecological concerns for Christians to reflect upon:
Is it true that nature has been of no interest [or of little concern] for Christians? Is it true that they have been such a people, wandering as strangers and pilgrims through this world, that they have never had the time, nor the occasion, nor the will, nor the rudimentary spiritual experience to respond to nature with the kind of theological intensity they have always devoted to God and humanity? Is it true that nature does not belong to the inner logic of Christian faith as we have known it for the last two thousand years?
True indeed, our tradition taught us that we are merely passing by here on earth. We are just “sojourners” of this world and our true citizenship is in the Heavenly home. What we are obsessed with is the destiny of the human soul and we do not care about the plight of other creatures, which have no place in heaven because only humans are accommodated there. The anthropocentric salvation has eclipsed the idea of biocentric salvation, which to the Eastern religious thought is more of a holistic salvation of the here and now. The pilgrimage idea had heavily occupied our mindset. We are simply concerned about the spiritual and eternal. This was affirmed in the early lectures of Luther on Genesis: “There is a similar beneficence of God toward us in His spiritual gifts. Before we were brought to faith, Christ, our Redeemer, is above in the Father’s house; He prepares mansions so that when we arrive, we may find heaven furnished with every kind of joy.” The anxiety about the destiny of the soul has distorted the right relationship of humanity with nature and it persists to undermine the importance of the rich variety of life forms. How could you imagine the world if the only race or species left is white or black? The world would be absolutely boring. When one tribe or race, or just one species of wildlife has been wiped out, that single race or species, which was uniquely created by God, has been deprived of its existence for good. What is extinct is totally irreversible and irreplaceable. It is totally lost forever! Its potential to regenerate over time in order to make the world more beautiful as it interweaves with other living forms has been utterly destroyed.
Take the case of the American aboriginal peoples (“First Nations”) in North America. It is utterly unimaginable that countless people were decimated due to the colonizers’ greedy exploitation and destruction of their habitats. Visualizing the steady flow of their natural wealth, political and religious leaders saw in this “New World” the only hope of making their Eurocentric race economically progressive. The newcomers annihilated not just the Aboriginal Nations but their old growth forests as well. Now the forests particularly in the Pacific Northwest have been severely depleted. To quote James Nash: “This process [extinction] is not simply a hypothesis; it is a current reality. Most analysts believe that the number of extinctions is now in the thousands annually. . . . Ironically, many unique and irreplaceable species are being diminished and extinguished even before they are humanly discovered and classified!”
The remnants of such horrible exploitation have nothing left and what they could do is to air their grievance and complaint. The voice of protest against Western Christianity from the aboriginal Americans was epitomized by the words of Vine Deloria, Jr. in his book, God is Red: A Native View of Religion:
Such a gospel of peace has been notoriously lacking as an element in Western civilization, and it is very questionable whether the present state of decay, corruption, and exploitation is better than what had existed before the coming of the Western Christian to the nations of the world. When ecologists find a predictable life-span of a generation separating us from total extinction, it would seem that we have a duty to search for another interpretation of mankind’s life story instead of the traditional Christian view of the world and what it means.
We Christians need to learn from the aboriginal peoples of the world even if time and again we regard them as heathen. We admit that we tried really hard to bring them to Christian faith but our missionary expansion has deprived them of their ancestral lands, natural wealth, and suppressed their rich culture and indigenous way of life. Our dealing with them became hypocritical. Although several of them were converted, we also converted their natural habitats into a terrible mess. While we regarded our missionary enterprise as divinely-inspired and as we stereotyped them as villains, savaged, barbarous, pagans, infidels, cannibals, we also seized and occupied their lands, exploited their natural wealth, pushed them onto marginal lands, and decimated a big portion of their population. In turn, the now surviving indigenous peoples of the world are part of the globe’s poorest of the poor while many of us take pleasure in making their lands economically progressive. Now that we have sown a massive ecological mess out of our profit-oriented stewardship of these aboriginal lands, the time has come for us to learn from the aboriginal peoples who are more ecologically friendly.
Christians and the aboriginal peoples are in polar opposite in almost every respect and come to different conclusions about the meaning of life and the eventual disposition of the soul and personality. Christians should appreciate how aboriginal communities cherish and respect life here on earth and their intimate relationship with creation. This ethic of kinship in creation is profound within the belief system of aboriginal peoples.
While Christians overemphasize eternal life, aboriginal peoples, on the other hand, do not care so much about afterlife because for them the present life is more important. If someone dies, they feel more connection with the Earth because they also see themselves returning to nature, their bodies becoming the dust of Mother Earth, and they are being reborn in a new generation of the tribe. The spirits of their ancestors remain in creation. This is the reason they honor both Mother Nature and their ancestors because their loved ones have become an organic element of God’s creation. Likewise, nature for them is sacred because it is where God the Great Spirit dwells.
For the aboriginal peoples, living in creation means living in a community. This attitude is the opposite of Western Christianity’s focus toward the salvation of the individual, which led to the steady decline of the importance of community. The individualistic thinks only of himself, but the communitarian thinks of the whole. People, animals, birds, plants, and trees are regarded as “relatives” and are treated with respect. American Indian professor, George Tinker, talks about the creational value of “reciprocity”: “The American Indian notion of reciprocity is fundamental to all human participation in world-balancing and maintaining harmony. Reciprocity involves first of all an understanding of the cosmos as sacred and alive, and the place of humans in the processes of the cosmic whole.” In the ethics of kinship, to regard creation as a community enables one to work for harmony and welfare of every creature. Although violence or predation is unavoidable among creatures, aboriginal peoples do acts of violence toward other creatures in a sacred way through prayer and offering. As Tinker relates:
When the tree is cut down for the Sun Dance, for instance, something must be offered, returned to the spirit world, for the life of that tree. The people not only ceremonially and prayerfully ask its permission but also ask for its cooperation and help during the four days of the dance itself.
American technological and economic development cannot embody the Indian ethic of reciprocity. It is not enough to replant a few trees or to add nutrients to the soil. These are superficial acts to treat the negative symptoms of development. The value of reciprocity which is a hallmark of Indian ceremonies goes to the heart of issues of sustainability, which is maintaining a balance and tempering the negative effects of basic human survival techniques. There is no ceremony among any people for clear-cutting an entire forest.
The Belief in Election or Chosen People
The belief in Election or predestination is inseparable from the preoccupation of Christians toward the certainty of personal salvation. Election is a Christian doctrine that facilitated the root of individualism. It separates a Christian from the sense of a universal community, particularly with other people and nature. This belief had intensified anxiety about the salvation of the soul, thereby making care of the earth less important. According to Santmire, the reformers’ soteriological themes such as election and regeneration stimulated further the preoccupation of theanthropocentric concern. Luther’s “justification by faith alone” offered no specific guidelines of living the faith. Those who were saved knew that God would certainly bless the elect in this life and the life to come.
Luther articulated Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:28-29: “We know that to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose; those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son.” Luther elaborated:
What God has predestined takes place by necessity. . . . We shall collect the proofs of an immutable predestination from the words of Scripture and from the works of God. . . . Therefore he says first: who are called according to His purpose. Thus it clearly follows that others are not called according to His purpose. For the term “purpose” in this passage means God’s predestination, or free election and deliberation, or counsel. Blessed Augustine in Book 1 of his Confessions says: “Thou are wonderful, O God; Thou changest Thy opinion, but Thou dost not change Thy counsel.
Predestination was among the most interesting doctrines taught by Luther and other reformers, particularly John Calvin (1509-1564), whose basic theology was heavily derived from Luther. What was persuasive in this doctrine was its reinforcement of justification by faith and its sheer assurance of salvation. However, this Christian belief turned many believers into deep anxiety. The anxious and insecure Christian found in this doctrine the profound hope of certainty of salvation, as Christ has promised in John 10: 29: “No one is able to snatch my sheep out of the Father’s hand.”
The problem of this belief is that other Christians stumbled on lifelong anxieties, wondering whether or not they truly belonged to the elect. Paul Althaus illustrates this problem: “Luther knows, however, that a Christian can, in spite of this, be tempted by the anxiety that he has not been chosen and thus fall into very great difficulty and despair.” This had intensified the central obsession of Christians toward “the destiny of the soul,” in which our preceding discussion relates that this extreme anxiety of the soul had led Christians to divorce themselves from their relationship with the Earth. They could not escape for being anxious because they were to manifest “distinguishing marks” as being part of the elect. The matter about marks had become shaky in view of the fact that it drew more ambiguous interpretations of what real signs were of a predestined saint.
Essentially, Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536) affirmed the danger of this Christian teaching. In his book, Luther on Predestination: The Antimony and Unity Between Love and Wrath in Luther’s Concept of God, Fredrik Brosché features Erasmus’ position, in his defense of the doctrine of human free will, that the belief about election or predestination “should not be incorporated in ordinary Christian teaching.” Erasmus alleged that the picture of the predetermining God which Luther espoused should not be taught to ordinary Christians, “for this would have disastrous consequences and lead to godlessness, despair and pessimism.” The belief of election would bury many Christians under a lot of anxious questions. This extreme anxiety brought by the doctrine of predestination is highlighted by Klaus Nürnberger in his book Martin Luther’s Message for Us Today: A Perspective from the South. To quote Nürnberger: “It makes us even more anxious. Do we really belong to the elect? What about the people we love? What about the countless people in the world we are supposed to lead to Christ? What about the people who never had a chance to hear the gospel? More fundamentally, what kind of God is this who can select a few and reject all others – is this the God of boundless mercy we have come to believe in?”
More important to this doctrine is the exceptional distinction from the rest of humanity, a concept that was derived from Old Testament tradition of “the Elect” or “God’s chosen people.” For the very first time since St. Paul and St. Augustine, the radical conversion of a sinner and an encounter with the irresistible grace of God in Christ were relived. Luther dealt considerably with the idea of “the elect” in Romans 8:28. “Indeed He [God] saves us,” said Luther, “in this way and exposes His elect to as many rapacious forces as are mentioned here, all of which are striving to pull the elect into damnation so they might be lost, in order to show that God saves not by our own merits, but purely by His own election.”
The good thing for Luther was that he regarded election as a sign of God’s love and grace and did not feel that God had to condemn other people to hell. Althaus argued that his pastoral approach led him to little interest in condemning those who were not elected. Ironically, other Christians went too far and advocated condemnation of other people. While it is true that the tendency to individualize predestination was evident in Luther, Calvin made it worst when he expanded Luther’s idea to “double predestination or election.” That means, if there are those who are predestined for salvation there are also those who are predestined for condemnation. The concept of double predestination, however, was a strong Pauline thought as it was considerably dealt with in Romans 9-11. Luther further articulated Paul’s idea by highlighting the word “reprobate,” indicating those who would be in eternal damnation. Luther expounded Paul’s idea: “In the same chapter (Romans 9) he uses two passages, the first speaking of the elect: ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy’ (Rom. 9; cf. Ex. 33: 19), and the second speaking regarding the reprobate: ‘I have raised you up for the very purpose, etc.’ (Rom. 9:17, cf. Ex. 9:16). And he continues: ‘He hardens the heart of whomever He wills, and He has mercy upon whomever He will’ (Rom. 9:18).” It was Calvin, however, who largely amplified and heavily inserted such belief into the Western mind. According to Calvin, the church is divided into two exclusive classes: the elect and the reprobate.
The danger of this belief would engage a believer to be judgmental and self-righteous. Moreover, one is bent to label and marginalize other people, particularly those who are non-Christians. The drawback of this belief had impacted the missionary enterprise to people of other cultures, particularly the world’s aboriginal peoples, who were labeled as “savage,” “infidels” or “barbarians.” This was exactly the scenario when the aboriginal Americans were subjugated and exploited by the Westerners primarily because the latter regarded themselves as the chosen people of God, viewing themselves as exceptionally distinct from the rest of humanity. Sad to say, the wars against these aboriginal peoples were justified by Western thinkers as a part of the divine plan for the elect to be God’s agents of salvation even against the infidels. In the words of Deloria:
“At this point in the clash between Western industrialism and the planet’s aboriginal peoples we find little or no voice coming from the true Christians to prevent continued exploitation. Instead we find rhetorical assertions that the Christian God is controlling history and fulfilling His divine plan for all mankind. . . . that the health of the souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”
In fairness to Luther’s idea of predestination, it should be noted that he taught that Christians are not predestined to a status of privilege but rather are chosen as instruments of God’s grace and love, and not to condemn certain people to hell. The only point of the argument is that though neither Luther nor Calvin intended the bad effect of the belief of election to happen, the lesson for us is that we must be careful with our anthropocentric teachings that are potentially harmful to other people and nature. As a voice from the South, Nürnberger argues his critical reflection on predestination:
The reader may have guessed that I am not particularly impressed by the doctrine of predestination. In my view it is a classical example of how speculation can lead both trained theologians and ordinary believers astray. The Reformers have emphasized over and over again that there are mysteries that we have to leave to God’s majesty. What has not been revealed cannot be known. The problem is that people think that predestination is indeed a fact that has been revealed because it can be found in the Bible.
The critique against this belief from the surviving aboriginal tribes of North America discloses the lost of their identity as an indigenous community. Because Euro-American Christians strongly believe that the doctrine of Manifest Destiny led them to regard themselves as Chosen People they suppressed many American indigenous ceremonies that were deemed dangerous impediments to their goals of Christianizing, civilizing, democratizing, and systematically relieving the aboriginal peoples of their landholdings. “The very conception of a Chosen People,” argues Deloria, “implies a lost religious ethnicity. Most likely religions do not in fact cross national and ethnic lines without losing their power and identity. . . . The traditional objection to this concept is that it would create religious wars.” True indeed! Our planet has truly been plagued by violence and religious conquests of foreign lands as perpetuated by the three most warring religions of the world – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Their militaristic character of being “Chosen by God” is a divine mission to crush the “infidels” or to convert them by force. Today, the faithful of these three warring religions are still killing against each other in the name of God.
Use and Enjoyment
“What people do about their ecology,” asserts Lynn White, “depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny – that is, by religion.” Western Christian tradition, which Luther shaped significantly, had established not only a major dualism of human beings and nature, but also taught that it is God’s will that humans exploit nature for their proper ends. Eco-theologians air a complaint that “standard accounts judge the consequent suffering of nature at human hands to have been enormous. Christianity has left us with a terribly diminished natural realm and a ‘predatory legacy.’” For Luther, as Santmire writes, “Nature has the effect of drawing the despairing soul to seek the humanity of Christ. Therefore, as nature is created for the sake of humanity, according to Luther, it seems that nature also functions anthropocentrically in the order of redemption as well.”
Luther believed that creation is an instrument which God intended to be in service to humanity. Luther undoubtedly derived his thoughts about the principle of “use and enjoyment” from Augustine’s teaching on uti et frui (using and enjoying) toward created elements in his De doctrina Christiana. Augustine compares the Christian pilgrimage on earth to a pilgrim or traveler far from home who “uses” a conveyance to return home, but does not “enjoy” the journey for its own sake. The famous Augustinian notion that “we should use this world and not enjoy it” was applied by Luther in his Lectures on Romans by implying that only God is the one to be enjoyed and truly loved, while His gifts are to be used, not to be enjoyed. He echoed Augustine’s thought: “For this is what it means to love God above all things and to esteem Him with a rich love, that is, to love Him with a precious love. But to love Him for the sake of His gifts [other creatures] or for some advantage is the lowest kind of love, that is, to love Him with a selfish desire. This is using God but not enjoying Him.” The value of the gifts of God or the material creation is reduced to utility for humans to protect them or comfort them. “God has given,” said Luther, “all these things to men and clothed them as with a garment.”
Enjoyment of God’s gifts, on the other hand, was also taught by Luther to be acceptable only if the motivation was to acknowledge God’s mercy and to tender Him thanksgiving for what God had given to bless human life. God had bestowed these creative blessings for humans to rule and to enjoy, especially those who received God’s grace and forgiveness. Luther mentioned this concept in his lectures on Genesis: “The purpose for which God gives us good health, wife, children, and property is not that we might offend Him by means of these gifts, but that we might recognize His mercy and give thanks to Him. For this reason He has granted us the enjoyment and, as it were, the rule of almost all the creatures.”
The danger of our Christian tradition, Robert Fowler says, is that “Christianity justifies the domination of nature by humans; some choose to analyze this tendency as a product of a given period of historical Christianity, usually the Middle Ages, while others see it as an inherent in the religion in every age.” Paul Althaus cites Luther’s appreciation on human creative discoveries like the art of printing books, which signified the rule of humans over other creatures.
Althaus wrote: “God the creator has given men power to do these all things by originally implanting and creating them within him. This is a part of man’s creation in the image of God, that is, so that he may rule over the earth.”
Luther strongly believed that nonhuman beings were created as “blessings for humanity” so they can be utilized for human existence. In fact, these blessings could defy death by extending human life through the utilization of nature as medicine. The sense of instrumentalism was evident in Luther. In one of the Table Talks in the Fall of 1532, he discussed the usefulness of nature in relation to the health of humans. He asserted that the Creator “employs the instruments of nature. . . . God also employs means [nature] for the preservation of health, such as sleep, food, and drink, for he does nothing except through instruments.” Nature had been created for human benefits to assist humans in confronting the insecurities and uncertainties of life, especially the fear of death. With the reality of death and dying in Luther’s sixteenth century world, he advocated the significance of the instruments of nature to serve human beings for healing. Luther said:
“Healing comes from the application of nature to the creature, for medicine is divinely revealed and not derived from books, even as knowledge of law is not from books but is drawn from nature. . . . It is our Lord God who created all things, and they are good. Wherefore it is permissible to use medicine, for it is a creature of God.”
The goodness and usefulness of nature was merely centered on the protection, healing, and comfort of humans. This anthropocentricism worsened during the rise of science and technology. Lynn White sheds light on this crucial subject:
We would seem to be headed toward conclusions unpalatable to many Christians. Since both science and technology are blessed words in our contemporary vocabulary, some may be happy at the notions, first, that, viewed historically, modern science is an extrapolation of natural theology and, second, that modern technology is at least partly to be explained as an Occidental, voluntarist realization of the Christian dogma of man’s transcendence of, and rightful mastery over, nature. But, as we recognize, somewhat over a century ago science and technology—hitherto quite separate activities—joined to give mankind powers which, to judge by many of the ecological effects, are out of control.
The proliferation of the scientific and technological attitude toward nature, which is predominantly in its Western forms, became effectively operative to endlessly allure the human desire to make life more easy, secure, and comfortable. In the same manner, it proportionately led to the emergence of inconceivable human illnesses, global warming, floods, forest fires, and other ecological distress to humans and other creatures brought by the misuse and abuse of nature.
One interesting subject to emphasize at this point in relation to the use and enjoyment of creation is that some of Luther’s contemporaries articulated the concept about the “use of other humans as natural slaves.” Relying heavily upon the hierarchical philosophy of Aristotle, they made the Westerner superior in relation to the indigenous peoples of the world. This Aristotelian thinking explained that the world was divided into men and slaves. As Deloria asserted, “The only available philosophical system purporting to explain the world of daily event was that of Aristotle. . . . It supported their thesis that natives could be enslaved. Even pro-native theologians admitted that the natives should be subjected to force until they were converted to the true faith.”
Luther’s contemporary, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1494-1573), a Spanish priest and a distinguished Aristotelian scholar, in one of the most important debates in human history held in Valladolid, Spain in 1550 defended the conquest of the Americas and the wars against the aboriginal peoples. His adversary was Bishop Bartolomé de Las Casas, a Dominican friar whose writings about atrocities against the indios had caused the debate to be held. Sepúlveda advocated Eurocentric superiority and applied Aristotle’s notion of “natural slaves,” that some human beings are meant to be slaves, and it is immoral for them to resist enslavement. Arguing the barbarian school of thought that the aboriginal peoples were plainly savage, Sepúlveda demeaned these indigenous peoples in a blatant offensive way: “In prudence, talent, virtue, and humanity they (indigenous Americans) are as inferior to the Spaniards as children to adults, women to men, as the wild and cruel to the most meek, as the prodigiously intemperate to the continent and temperate, that I have almost said, as monkeys to men.” With this debasing statement toward the indigenous Americans, Sepúlveda was later dubbed as the father of modern racism. This Eurocentric position significantly impacted the missionary enterprise and justified the invasion.
Anthony Pagden, who wrote an in-depth study of the sixteenth century European description and classification of the indigenous Americans in his impressive work, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology, reconstructs the misleading classificatory theories of the sixteenth century:
The men of the sixteenth century, it is claimed, were too heavily laden with the baggage of Plinian ethnology and Aristotelian psychology to be able to give a proper account of the data before their eyes. Only when they were finally compelled, sometime at the beginning of the eighteenth century, to recognize that the theories with which they had been working could not be made to fit the facts before their eyes, were they able to come up with an adequate description of the American world.
One inaccuracy was that, as Pagden writes, “the Europeans who encountered them found it very difficult to take seriously as human beings, creatures whose social presence and personal appearance was so strikingly unfamiliar.” This superior mentality of Europeans was a trait derived from the “Hellenistic sense of uniqueness” by which the world was a simple division into ‘them’ and ‘us’.
This Eurocentric bias had led to the subjugation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and utilized their manpower to propel Europe’s industrial revolution. Ironically, the enslavement of these peoples, including Africans, had boosted the economic progress of Europe. This, in turn, heightened the growth of modern science and technology, which in the Western mind helped to fulfill God’s intention that humans exploit nature for their own proper ends.
Thus, the mechanical view of nature had been unleashed to operate in the planet. In his article, “Historical Roots of the American Crisis,” Paul Santmire has his own creative description of the Western view of nature:
Nature is analogous to a machine; or in the most popular version nature is a machine. Nature is composed of hard, irreducible particles which have neither color nor smell nor taste. . . . Beauty and value in nature are in the eye of the beholder. Nature is the dead res extensa, perceived by the mind, which observes nature from a position of objective detachment. Nature in itself is basically a self-sufficient, self-enclosed complex of merely physical forces acting on colorless, tasteless, and odorless particles of hard, dead matter. That is the mechanical view of nature as it was popularly accepted in the circles of the educated in the nineteenth century.
If you imagine your co-creatures, especially the rocks, rivers, mountains, trees, and wind, to be inert or dead, you would never think of their value or integrity. How much more with the value of interrelationship? We do not care! They have no souls anyway. The Greek influence that the human soul is not only separate and distinct from the body but also is antagonistic toward the body has proportionately enhanced the belief of treating the material, particularly nature, as inert, dead, and insignificant. Needless to say, what was attuned to our mindset was simply the use and enjoyment of all the riches of creation, just as Luther wrote: “God provided such an attractive dwelling place for the future of human being before the human being was created. Thus, afterwards, when man is created, he finds a ready and equipped home into which he is brought by God and commanded to enjoy all the riches of so splendid a home. . . .[and] the beasts are turned over to him, so that he might enjoy all this wealth free, in proportion to his need.”
In light of the instrumentalist view, stewardship, a popular Christian teaching which is pedagogically associated with humans as managers of earth’s resources, caretakers of the earth, and responsible users of money, deserves to be evaluated at this point. This writer agrees with many ecologists that stewardship is ecologically ambiguous and it fails to offer a sound ecological ethic that could alleviate the miserable plight of other creatures. The idea of “stewards of creation” places humans over and above creation. This idea also employs the notion of anthropocentric and instrumental management of earth’s resources. Creation is not seen here as a community. Thomas Berry in The Great Work: Our Way into the Future understood creation as “subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited.” Thus, stewardship basically betrays the ecological ideas of interdependence, interrelationship, and kinship within the inclusive biotic community. In his article, “In God’s Ecology,” Santmire argues:
Stewardship is too functional, too manipulative, too operational a term, and too tied in with money. This approach does not allow the faithful to respond to the earth and to the whole cosmos with respect and with wonder. A theology focused anthropologically on ethical issues remains anthropocentric, not theocentric or christocentric. The idea has outlived its usefulness, especially in a North American context, where it carries strong connotations of "managing our own resources" regardless of the mandates of God or the divinely ordained rights of natural systems themselves.
James Nash also asserts his critical view on stewardship, stating that
many have negative reactions to some descriptions, for instance, caretaker, gardener, and especially manager – all of which have been associated with anthropocentric abuse and the strictly instrumental evaluation of nature. Management is a concept that makes sense contextually, for instance, in agriculture, tree farming, and wild habitat restoration. But it is a wildly arrogant notion when applied universally to describe human relationships with the whole biosphere. Many things are best left alone. Similarly, some have strong reactions to conservation and especially to steward and stewardship. Though the ethical concept of stewardship justifiably has positive connotations to many Christians, implying love and service, it has negative ones for substantial numbers of environmentalists.
The instrumentalist view of nature is completely in contrast with non-Western views, particularly those of the aboriginal peoples who were subjugated by European invaders. In his environmental philosophy, Baird Callicott argues: “In its practical consequences the American Indian view of nature is on the whole more productive of a cooperative symbiosis of people with their environment than is the view of nature predominant in the Western European tradition.” While the Western view establishes an antagonistic dualism between body and soul or man and nature, the non-Western view, though their dualistic belief in spirit and nature cannot be denied, regards both the spirit and nature not just as their neighbors but also as a part of their family and community. The non-Western view claims that every organic form, including a stone, river, mountain, is possessed of spirit that gives life. Not only does every creature have a life or spirit, everyone is related together as members of one universal family. A reflective Sioux Indian, John Fire Lame Deer, in his book, Lame Deer: Seekers of Visions, explains this view in the most revealing metaphysical description:
Nothing is so small and unimportant but it has a spirit given it by Wakan Tanka. Tunkan is what you might call a stone god, but he is also a part of the Great Spirit. The gods are separate beings, but they are all united in Wakan Tanka. It is hard to understand—something like the Holy Trinity. You can’t explain it except by going back to the “circles within circles” idea, the spirit splitting itself up into stones, trees, tiny insects even making them all Wakan by his ever presence. And in turn all these myriad of things which makes up the universe flowing back to their source, united in one Grandfather Spirit.
They strongly believe that each creature, being possessed of a spirit, could not exist without every other creature. This non-Western view has a strong sense of interrelationship, interconnectedness, and interdependence of all creatures. These people acknowledge other creatures as their “kin,” like loving them as brothers and sisters. I consider it strange for the Western view to have no affection with other creatures. For the indigenous peoples, the world did not consist of inanimate materials. It was rather alive, and everything in it signifies the dynamic interrelationship of all creatures. To demonstrate their belief of interdependence, Gary Snyder, a Buddhist with a background in American Indian spirituality, writes his vivid outlook of intercommunion of the whole creation: “We can view all beings as our own flesh, as our own children or parents. And we can see ourselves as an offering to the continuation of life. Every bite we take – whether it is a plant or animal – involves a sacrifice to life. All nature is a gift-exchange, a potluck banquet, and there is no death that is not somebody’s food, no life that is not somebody’s death. . . . The shimmering food chain, food web, is the scary, beautiful, condition of the biosphere.”
It is important for our spiritual well-being, Gary Snyder says, to get back in touch with the wider world of beings, to resist and reverse our slide into anthropocentricism and adopt a more biocentric view of things. It should be considered that the interdependence of all creatures is part of the dynamics of God’s love for all creatures. All creatures, particularly humans, are faced with the reality that life is limited. Everyone has to die. But the death of one brings life and existence to the other. In the act of eating, “other creatures become us, concretely and physically.” Their lives have been given in order to sustain us. In turn, when we die, our corpses become food for other beings. This is the creativity of interdependence, which in the non-Western mind is intended by the creative Creator.
On the other hand, “nature has been prejudiced,” declares Callicott, “by the metaphysical apartheid of Western Christian religious tradition, because the world is pictured as an atomism of most subtle and insidious sort. It breaks a highly integrated functional system into separate, discrete, and functionally unrelated sets of particulars.” These particulars are not related as a family or community, not even related as neighbors. There is no sense of interdependence. No interrelationship at all! Creation is simply an instrument which God creates in service to humanity. Luther wrote: “On the third day God provides kitchen and provisions. On the fourth, sun and moon are given to man for attendance and service. On the fifth the rule over the fish and the birds is turned over to him. On the sixth the rule over all the beasts is turned over to him, so that he might enjoy all this wealth free, in proportion to his need.”
“The modern technological civilization,” writes Callicott, “which is European in its origins, has been neither restrained nor especially delicate in manipulating the natural world.” The Greek influence on Christian beliefs and attitudes is profound. The extreme dualism of man and nature, the manipulative hierarchy of beings, and the ambiguous notion of natural slaves all led to the mechanical and utilitarian attitude toward nature. What is only the most essential is the human soul that needs to be emancipated from his or her “lonely exile sojourning in a strange and hostile world, alien not only to his or her physical environment, but to his or her own material body, both of which he or she is encouraged to fear and attempt to conquer.” Deloria brings to light: “Without the initial Christian doctrines giving Europeans free reign over the rest of the world, much of the exploitation would not have occurred. It was only when people were able to combine Western greed with religious fanaticism that the type and extent of exploitation that history has recorded was made possible.” It’s so appalling to realize that Western Christians made use of such doctrines of faith, which were predominantly inspired by Greek thoughts, to justify that it was God’s will to make the most of nature and the indigenous peoples in favor of the Eurocentric race. “Even today,” Deloria continues, “the Christian missionaries search the jungles of the Amazon looking for Indian tribes to convert. In their wake come the professional killers to exterminate the tribes, and following them the government bureaucracies and road builders to subdue the lands of the interior for world commerce.”
Martin Luther, who was significantly part of the Western religious tradition that had passed on the anthropocentric and instrumentalist writings to many generations, remains to be an influential figure to our time. But let us be prudent enough to realize that his Christian “religion of love” has been loveless to nature. Acknowledging the shortcomings of these writings as far as the integrity of creation is concerned would help Christians to correct and redirect our “religion of love,” extending it toward the whole creation. Is it not the words of Christ in Mark 16: 15 that command us to proclaim the Gospel of love to the whole creation, not just to humanity alone? We cannot deny that Christians’ anthropocentric writings have been dubious interpretations and detrimental to nature. Christianity has to recognize that many of its religious teachings have to be taken with a serious caution because they can become irrelevant and ecologically problematic.
Take for instance the insistence of theologians of the past, beginning with St. Paul, who imposed upon us the inferiority of women in the church and society, telling us that the weaker sex should remain quiet and be submissive to men. Luther pointed out this subject in The Disputation Concerning Justification: “Paul, however, is saying that only man is the image of God, not the woman, because the church is subject to Christ, like the woman to the man [Eph. 5: 21-24], and God governs the church.” Such teaching is said to be legitimate because of the biblical tradition. The imposition of such a tradition would seem to be irreligious and unjust to our context. Most of our church bodies now are emancipated from practicing sexual discrimination into the bliss of sexual freedom and equality in serving the church, human society, and other creatures. The danger here was the oversimplification of this biblical tradition about the acquiescence of women because this biblical notion on the weaker sex had been extended to nature. Because women are inferior to men, so is nature to humans.
This is the reason why the concepts of kinship and interdependence in creation are unpopular to Western religious tradition. Christians no longer can afford to stay at home with this exclusivist, anthropocentric thought of yesterday. Christianity needs a more universal, more ecological and more cosmic reading of the bible. Thomas Berry in The Dream of the Earth evaluates that the ultimate basis of the ecological difficulties in Christianity lies in the spirituality of Christians. For Berry, Christian spirituality is particularistic or human-centered. Humans, Berry says, have “broken the primary law of the universe, the law of the integrity of the universe, the law that every component member of the universe should be integral with every other member of the universe and that the primary norm of reality and of value is the universe community itself in its various forms of expressions.” Matthew Fox also argues in Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth that a creation-centered spirituality is what humans need in our degenerating ecological context. Creation spirituality, Fox says, “empowers us for an ecological era, a time when we cease looking up for divinity and start looking around.”
Our theological teachings had been heavily particularistic. The impact of these human-centered teachings had brought no healthier world to live. “Christianity itself,” Deloria frankly argues, “may find the strength to survive, if it honestly faces the necessity to surrender its narrow interpretation of history and embark on a determined search for the true meaning of man’s life on this planet. Even surrendering a belief in a God who exercises supremacy over world events becomes possible, if in surrendering the belief, one comes to a greater understanding of the nature of religion and religious experiences.” Deloria criticizes the essence of the saying, “Let us make God in the image of man,” or rationalize the will of God in our own human terms.
While the fact remains that most Christians are spiritually but not ecologically converted, our people need to be educated and redirected from a dualistic and human-centered Gospel to a more universal Gospel for all creatures in order for us to build the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” As we all unite toward this universal and “down-to-earth” Christian prayer, we also need to mend and deconstruct Christian beliefs that have been detrimental to nature – beliefs that promote hegemony and domination over other people and nature. Instead of working out “God’s will on earth as in heaven,” Christian tradition has espoused “God’s will on earth as in the West.” In her book, On Earth As In Heaven, Dorothee Söelle conveys her prophetic message for Christians:
“Among us the West pretends to be a kind of heaven: new world order, uniform opinion, new armament thrusts, total rule over all other peoples. The idol that is worshiped there is sheer power. In contrast to this Christians pray for the realization of God’s will and refer to the universalist traditions of life for all humanity.”
Mending our repressive religious heritage would help emancipate the poor of the earth and the environment from further annihilation. “The ecological catastrophe,” claims Söelle, “that now envelops us has its roots, in part, in Christian tradition. If we would develop a new understanding of creation, we need a critical awareness of the destructiveness of our faith.” Since our Earthly home today is in danger of being obliterated due to our anthropocentric approach to nature, the compelling demand of salvation, love, and healing should no longer be
confined to human beings but should now be extended to the whole creation. Humans are the only moral creatures who have the unique capacity and the responsibility to care for the integrity of the whole creation. Humans are the only creatures who can truly love the rest of God’s creatures.
 Jürgen Moltmann, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God (Munich: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1985), 21.
 Ibid., 20. (Emphasis added)
 John Hart presented ecological thinkers from both the West and East; their “dynamic theology being open to the guidance of the Spirit retains core beliefs but surrenders historically and culturally limited understandings not central to the core.” Among them are for Northern visions: Black Elk, Fools Crow, Matthew Fox, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Daniel Maguire, Thomas Berry, and John Haught; and for Southern visions: Marcelo de Barros, O.S.B., José Luis Caravias, S.J., Leonardo Boff, and Ivone Gebara. See What Are They Saying About Environmental Theology? (New York/Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2004), 59-99.
 Hart featured a critique of Christian tradition exhibited by Daniel C. Maguire in the remarkable book that he co-authored with Larry Rasmussen, Ethics for a Small Planet: New Horizons on Population, Consumption, and Ecology (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1998) and a book with Harold Coward, Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York, 2000). Ibid., 74. (Italics mine)
 Santmire, a Lutheran priest, applies the deepest roots of Western religious sensibility to determine whether nature has had any formative meaning for the Christian mind. Santmire proves that there are significant anthropocentric beliefs, he calls spiritual motif, in Christian tradition but Christianity has also a strain of ecological motif particularly in the tradition of Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Francis of Assisi. However, it appears that only the tradition of St. Francis provides a clear and sufficient ecological foundation while others are so limited and ambiguous due to their anthropocentric-soteriological makeup. The Travail of Nature: The Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985).
 Ibid. 124.
 Santmire, Nature Reborn: The Ecological Promise of Christian, 31-32.
 Augustine, Soliloquies Book I. ii, 7; cited by Santmire, The Travail of Nature, 9.
 Ibid., 123.
 The Western value of individualism was intensified by the Enlightenment. Its central creed was “faith in humankind,” which tantamount to saying, “Justification by human alone.” Its progress was assured by the free competition of individuals in pursuit of anthropocentric benefits in the world. The free human being was infinitely perfectible and should not be allowed to evolve along the lines of his or her own choice. From the early roots of liberal thought in Enlightenment, there was a tendency in the direction of “indiscriminate freedom.” See David J. Bosch’s intriguing book, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1991), 266.
 White, “The Historical Roots of Ecologic Crisis,” 25.
 Moltmann, 21.
 The Bondage of the Will, 1525, WA 18, 636; LW 33: 67.
 Western Christianity has been significantly influenced by Greek philosophy that the human body is dichotomized from and not as valuable as the human soul especially as the soul is called to ascend toward the eternal realm. This dualism reflected the disconnection between the physical world and the eternal home. This was further articulated by Augustine in his City of God and De doctrina Christiana, stressing the usi and frui of the temporal blessings and that Christians are only strangers and pilgrims on earth, or the Earthly City, and that the real home is the Heavenly City. In the sixteenth century, Luther echoed these teachings in some of his writings. See Williston Walker, A History of Christian Church (New York: Scribner, 1959), 5-6, 161-168; and Augustine’s City of God, trans. J. W. C. Wand (London: Oxford University Press, 1963) and De doctrina Christiana, trans. D. W. Robertson, Jr. (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958).
 Disputation Concerning Man, 1536, WA 39.I, 177; LW 34: 138. (Emphasis added)
 Lohse, Martin Luther’s Theology, 243; cited from Wilfred Joest, Ontologie der Person bei Luther (Göttingen: Vandenboeck & Ruprecht, 1967) and G. Ebeling, “Der Mensch nach seiner geschöpflichen Bestimmung,” Lutherstudien 2 (1982).
 Oswald Bayer, “Nature and Institution: Luther’s Doctrine of the Three Orders,” Lutheran Quarterly 17 (1998): 146-147. In The Disputation Concerning Man, Luther wrote: “11. Therefore, if philosophy or reason itself is compared with theology, it will appear that we know almost nothing about man, 12. Inasmuch as we seem scarcely to perceive his material cause sufficiently, 13. For Philosophy does not know the efficient cause for certain, nor likewise the final cause.” WA 39.I, 177; LW 34: 138.
 Lectures on Hebrews, On Hebrews 4: 12, 1518, WA 57.III, 157; LW 29: 166. (Italics mine)
 Magnificat, 1521, WA 7, 548; LW 303-304.
 Plato (428-348 B.C.E.) is the most influential philosopher who has ever lived. His ideas had significantly permeated the thoughts of Saint Paul, Augustine, Luther, and many Western thinkers and theologians. His famous writing The Republic brought a profound influence to Western thought, especially his emphasis on the tripartite hierarchy of the human soul, where the themes on ethics, politics, anthropology, and metaphysics were based. Plato was the first to dichotomize the soul from the human body.
 Augustine featured this passage in his De doctrina Christiana, Book I, 4: 10; while Luther, on the other hand, presented it in his Großen Genesisvorlesung, WA 42, 283-284; LW 4: 206.
 The earliest concept of the body as a tomb or prison of the soul originated with Pythagoras, who taught that the soul is a fallen divinity, imprisoned in the body as a retribution for sin. The goal of the soul is to be freed from the physical world upon death and to reunite with its proper divine companions, the belief of transmigration of the soul or fresh reincarnation to the companies of bodies of humans and animals. Pythagoras deeply influenced Plato who further articulated the “immortality of the soul” in his works, Cratylus and Gorgias, both written in the fourth century B.C.E. Augustine picked this up in his Against the Academics, Book I, 3.9. See Luther’s Großen Genesisvorlesung, On Genesis 23:3-4, n. 26, WA 42, 283-284; LW 4: 206.
 Dorothee Söelle, To Work and To Love: A Creation Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 30.
 Moltmann, God in Creation, 48.
 To The Christian Nobility, 1520, WA 6, 441; LW 44: 201.
 WA 17.II, 235; cited by Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, 414.
 Althaus, Theology of Martin Luther, 414.
 Sermon at the Funeral of the Elector, Duke John of Saxony, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14, 1532, WA 36, 242; LW 51: 234. “Thus the spirit comes from the same seed as the body does and yet it can be separated from the body, but afterwards they shall be reunited.” WA 39.II, 386; Cf. WA 39.II, 354; quoted in Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, 414, n. 44.
 Disputationen, 1545, WA 39.II, 386; Cf. WA 39.II, 354.
 Empedocles, Purifications Book 121. 31, in An Introduction to Early Greek Philosophy, trans. John Mansley Robinson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), 152; quoted in J. Baird Callicott’s In Defense of the Land Ethic: Essays in Environmental Philosophy (Albany, New York: State University of New York, 1989), 182.
 See “Epicureans,” Dictionary of the Bible and Religion, 317-318.
 Genesis Lectures, WA 44, 717; LW 8: 189.
 T. J. Kleinhans is one of the contributors to William Gentz’s Dictionary of the Bible and Religion. He wrote: “The English word ‘soul’ is much broader than its Hebrew equivalent, nephesh. Its root includes the concept of breath and breathing. Thus Genesis 2: 7: The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (nephesh); and man became a living being. So, to say in our terms as Christians that the “soul” of the loved one has departed to be with the Lord or to speak of the ‘immortal soul’ would simply not be understandable in the culture of the Old Testament.” T. J. Kleinhans, “Soul,” Dictionary of the Bible and Religion, 1986 edition, 996-997.
 Claus Westermann, Roots of Wisdom (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994), 39; cited by Brennan R. Hill in his Christian Faith and the Environment: Making Vital Connections (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1998), 39.
 Dictionary of the Bible and Religion, 997.
 The belief that the Matter or the physical world, even the mortal body, is evil was an influential teaching, which Western religious tradition derived from the philosophy of Neo-Platonism, headed by Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus (205-270 B.C.E.). Ibid., 734. Predominant to this Hellenistic influence was Origen (185-254 A.D.) who advocated that “those of greater sinfulness are on the face of the earth and mortal bodies.” Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970), 76.
 The common trait of Eastern religions and other Non-Western traditions is a reverence for the life-giving earth. Most non-Christian and non-Western views were in fundamental balance and harmony with nature. The following passage is a Native American complaint against Western approach to nature: “The white people never cared for the land or deer or bear. When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. . . . We don’t chop down trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull up the trees, kill everything.” See chapter on “Non-Western Views of Nature,” John B. Cobb, Jr., Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology (Beverly Hills, California: Bruce, 1972), 39-47.
 Söelle, To Work and To Love: A Creation Theology, 29-30.
 Ibid., 33.
 The concept of the “Pilgrimage of the saints on Earth” was first articulated by Saint Paul and was further built up by Western theologians, of whom the most prominent is St. Augustine. In his teachings about the Heavenly dwelling, St. Paul used the metaphor of the “tent” or the “tabernacle” of the wandering Israelites in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5: 1-3, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.” Moreover, in Hebrews, the author used the example of Abraham’s faith experience: “By faith Abraham made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promised. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. . . . And now they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. . . . If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11: 9, 10, 13-16 NRSV.
 Denis Janz, Three Reformation Catechisms: Catholic, Anabaptist, Lutheran (New York and Toronto: The Edwin Mellon Press, 1982), 127; cited by Lindberg in Howard Clark Kee, et. al., Christianity: A Social and Cultural History, 264.
 Kee, et. al., 263.
 Ibid., 55.
 Ibid., 124.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 12: 1, WA 42, 441; LW 2: 253. Augustine had these writings on the pilgrimage of Christians in his City of God: “They are concerned to avoid giving offense to them, in case they should harm themselves in respect of things which may be rightly and innocently enjoyed by good men, but which they desire more than is right for those who are strangers in this world and who fix their hope on a heavenly country.” Book I, p. 15-16; “In the same way, while the City of God is on pilgrimage in this world, she has in her midst some who are united with her in participation in the sacraments, but who will not join with her in the eternal destiny of the saints.” Book I, p. 45; “Among us Christians, on the other hand, the citizens of the Holy City of God, as they live by God’s standards in the pilgrimage of this present life, fear and desire, pain and gladness in conformity with the holy Scriptures and sound doctrine; and because their love is right, all these feelings are right in them.” Book XIV, p. 561.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 23:3-4, WA 42, 283-284; LW 4: 206.
 On the Sermon on the Mount, 1532, WA 32, 314; LW 21: 15. (Emphasis added)
 On the Sermon of the Mount, 1532, WA 32, 315; LW 21: 16.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 23:3-4, WA 42, 283-284; LW 4: 206.
 Mariano C. Apilado, The Dream Need Not Die: Revolutionary Spirituality 2 (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publishers, 2000), 97.
 White, “The Historical Roots of Ecologic Crisis,” 29.
 Ruether, Gaia and God, 90.
 “I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that he has given me and still sustains my body and soul, all my limbs and senses, my reason and all the faculties of my mind, together with food and clothing, house and home, family and property; that he provides me daily and abundantly with all the necessities of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves me from all evil.” Martin Luther, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, trans. and edited by Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 345.
 John F. Haught, “Ecology: Restoring Our Sense of Belonging,” Woodstock Report 38 (June 1994): 4.
 Ibid., 13.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 1:11, WA 42, 29-30; LW 1: 39. (Italics mine)
 Nash, Loving Nature, 55.
 Dr. Vine Deloria, Jr., who died November 13, 2005 while I was writing this book, is an indigenous American, author, historian, theologian, and activist. He is best known for his attack against the United States government for the treatment of the remaining American Indian population. His famous book God is Red is labeled as a “controversial” approach to Christian religion; in it he criticized the anthropocentric view of Western Christianity on the natural world and its offenses against the Aboriginal American tribes. The American Anthropological Association sponsored a panel in response to his most celebrated work, Custer Died for Your Sins, and many sacred artifacts and human remains have been returned to tribes as a result. See Deloria’s complaint against Western Christianity in God is Red: A Native View of Religion (New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, 1973).
 Ibid., 284. (Emphasis added)
 Ibid., 153.
 George E. Tinker, Clara Sue Kidwell and Homer Noley, A Native American Theology (New York: Orbis Books, 2001), 41.
 Ibid., 43-44. (Italics mine)
 Santmire, The Travail of Nature, 125.
 Lecture on Romans, Scholia, WA 56, 384; LW 25: 373-374. Luther derived his predestination doctrine heavily from Paul and Augustine. All three drew materials from the Old Testament, which, throughout, asserts that the Lord chose Israel as an elect people out of pure, sovereign grace. Israel’s election was not based on its merits but was done in spite of its shortcomings.
 The doctrine of predestination was further developed by Calvin into a “social ethic of activism in society” or what is commonly called a Protestant Ethic. This was later picked up by the seventeenth century English Puritans who advocated hard work, savings and investment, and a religious vision for material success and national progress, an emphasis on an extreme anthropocentric and instrumentalist approach to nature. The Protestant Ethic was practically based on Calvin’s teaching on “Earthly Possessions Held in Trust” in his famous Institutes; it demonstrates a profound Augustinian influence of utilitarianism in dealing with the material world. See Book 3 of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559, vol. 2, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977).
 John 10:29 was one of the proof texts of Luther on predestination and election. WA 56, 384; LW 25: 374.
 Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, 285.
 Fredrick Brosché, Luther on Predestination: The Antimony and Unity Between Love and Wrath in Luther’s Concept of God (Stockholm, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1977), 85.
 De libero arbitrio, I.a, 9-11; quoted in Brosché, Luther on Predestination, 85, n. 1.
 Klaus Nürnberger, Martin Luther’s Message for Us Today: A Perspective from the South (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: Cluster Publications, 2005), 59.
 Election was based in the sovereignty of God. For Luther, election depends on the initiative of God and God’s grace alone can save human beings from their sins. So, salvation does not depend on human efforts but entirely on whether God has elected a person to be the recipient of saving grace. Luther said: “All these points argue that predestination and the certainty of our election, and not the righteousness of man’s will, are the cause of our salvation.” Lecture on Romans, Scholia, WA 56, 88-89; LW 25: 80.
 Lecture on Romans, Scholia, WA 56, 381-382; LW 25: 371.
 Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, 286.
 Lecture on Romans, Scholia, WA 56, 386; LW 25: 373.
 Deloria, 274.
 Nürnberger, 67.
George E. Tinker, “American Indian Religious Traditions, Colonialism,
Resistance, and Liberation,” in the book Native Voices: American
Indian Identity and Resistance by Richard A Grounds, George E.
Tinker and David E. Wilkins, eds. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas,
 Deloria, 293.
 White, 24.
 Ibid. 25.
 Robert Booth Fowler, The Greening of Protestant Thought (Chapel Hill & London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 62.
 Santmire, The Travail of Nature, 125.
 Augustine advocated that all temporal things are provided by divine providence to be used by us but not with any permanent or exclusive affection. Our enjoyment belongs only to God. De Doctrina Christiana trans. D.W. Robertson (New York: The Liberal Arts Press, 1958), 10. The human use of created elements was justified by Augustine in a letter to Honoratus: “Truly there is in man a rational soul, but it makes a difference which way he turns the use of reason by his will: whether to the goods of his external and lower nature, or to the goods of his interior and higher nature; that is, whether his enjoyment is corporeal and temporal or divine and eternal. This soul is placed in a middle state, having below it the physical creation and above it the Creator of itself and its body.” Augustine, Letter 140 to Honoratus, trans. Sister Wilfred Parsons (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1965), 45.
 “Thus in this mortal life, wandering from God (2 Corinthians 5: 6), if we wish to return to our native country where we can be blessed we should use this world and not enjoy it, so that the “invisible things” of God being understood by the things that are made (Romans 1: 20) may be seen, that is, so that by means of corporal and temporal things we may comprehend the eternal and spiritual. The true objects of enjoyment are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are at the same time the Trinity, One Being.” (Emphasis added) Augustine, De doctrina Christiana, Book I, section 4.
 Lectures on Romans, Scholia: On Romans 5:5, WA 56, 307; LW 25: 294-295. (Emphasis added)
 Lectures on Romans, Scholia: On Romans 8:7, WA 56, 362; LW 25: 351.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 4:2, WA 42, 182; LW 1: 245.
 Fowler, The Greening of Protestant Thought, 62.
 Althaus, Theology of Martin Luther, 66.
 Table Talk, no. 360, 1532, WA TR 1, 151; LW 54: 53.
 Table Talk, no. 360, WA TR 1, 151-152; LW 54: 53-54.
 White, 27.
 Deloria, 276. Deloria does not acknowledge here the conflicting perspective of Bishop de Las Casas who advocated conversion by example, not by force. Because of his defense of aboriginal peoples, Las Casas was driven from his diocese of Chiapas, Mexico, and forced to return to Spain where he continued to advocate for aboriginal people’s rights.
 The Spanish discovery and subsequent conquest of the New World inspired a serious, if not heated, intellectual controversy regarding the rationality and Christianization of the Indians. The debate reached its height in 1550, when the King of Spain, Charles V, ordered a junta, a group of jurists and theologians, to meet at Valladolid in order to hear the arguments in favor of and against the use of force to incorporate the Indians into Spanish America. On the one side was one Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1494-1573), a prominent humanist and Aristotelian scholar who justified conquest and evangelization by war. His opponent, fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474-1566), in contrast, was a staunch advocate of peaceful and persuasive conversion. So it was that the most powerful man, Charles V, leader of the most powerful nation in the world, Spain, suspended all wars of conquest until a group of intellectuals grappled with the morality of Spain’s presence and enterprises in America. The Las Casas-Sepúlveda debate constitutes the first serious theoretical attempt by Europeans to understand the diverse native cultures of the New World. With the debate emerged the concept of an American cultural duality, a polarized viewpoint between civilization and barbarism, which thereafter became ingrained in the American psyche. See Lewis Hanke,
All Mankind is One: A Study of the Disputation between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 on the intellectual and religious capacity of the American Indians (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974).
 Hanke, All Mankind Is One, 84.
 See Lewis Hanke, Aristotle and the American Indians: A Study in Race Prejudice in the Modern World (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1959).
 Pagden made an anthropological analysis in examining four groups of writers who described and classified the indigenous American culture: the sixteenth century theologian Francisco de Vitoria and his followers, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, the ‘champion of the Indians’ Bartolomé de Las Casas and Jesuit historians José de Acosta and Joseph François Lafitau. Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of the Comparative Ethnology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1. (Emphasis added)
 Ibid., 58.
 Ibid., 124.
 White, 25.
 H. Paul Santmire, “Historical Roots of the American Crisis,” in Western Man and Environmental Ethics, ed. Ian G. Barbour (Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1973), 70-71.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 1:11, WA 42, 29; LW 1: 39.
 Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (New York: Bell Tower, 1999), x; cited by John Hart, What Are They Saying About, 76.
 H. Paul Santmire, “In God’s Ecology,” The Christian Century 117, no. 35 (December 13, 2000): 1301.
 Nash, Loving Nature, 107. (Emphasis added)
 Callicott, In Defense of the Land Ethic, 190.
 John Fire, Lame Deer: Seekers of Visions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 102-103.
 Gary Snyder, “Grace,” Co-evolution Quarterly 3 (Fall 1984): 1.
 Ibid., 3.
 Ibid., 1.
 Callicott, 186.
 Genesis Lectures, On Genesis 1:11, WA 42, 29; LW 1: 39. (Emphasis added)
 Callicott, 191.
 Ibid., 182.
 Deloria, 281.
 The Disputation Concerning Justification, 1536, WA 39.I, 111; LW 34: 177.
 Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco, California: Sierra Club Books, 1998), 116; cited by Fowler, The Greening of Protestant Thought, 21.
 Ibid., 202.
 Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 41; cited by Hart, What Are They Saying About, 68.
 Ibid., 287.
 Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6: 10 NRSV.
 Dorothee Söelle, On Earth As In Heaven: A Liberation Spirituality of Sharing, trans. by Marc Batko (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 52.
 Ibid., 53.
 Söelle, To Work and To Love: A Theology of Creation, 20.